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tv   [untitled]    May 7, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT

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payments. bear in mind that we already have before us a budget from the majority that would cut, snap food stamp benefits some 17% over the next ten years. this should be personal to all of us. i know in oregon, nutritional needs are critical. we have done a better job in documenting it and it's a huge percentage of our state that suffer food insecurity. we think 13 to 14%. we have a population almost 16% below the poverty level and we've had over 700,000 residents
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receive these benefits. there have been estimates that even a 10% cut would mean well over $100 million less in payments but it would also cut 2,000 jobs and 189 million fewer meals for low income families in my state. and i would venture to say that in each of our states there would be numbers that would be comparable. the food stamp program has lifted almost 4 million people out of poverty. this has made the difference for 1.7 million children. we're providing an average of less than $300 a month. but unfortunately the reconciliation instructions we've received from the majority, from the department of agriculture, suggests that it's nutrition that is going to bear the brunt with an additional cut
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over the next ten years of $36 billion, reducing benefits for almost 50 million people, eliminating them entirely for 2 million, denying over a quarter million children free breakfast and lunch. we don't have to do that. and again, there are areas that people on this committee, i think, not just in their heart of hearts, but probably things they've said, that we could come together to actually make a difference. let's get serious about dealing with agricultural reform. we have opportunities before us, and i've joined with the chairman in the past on efforts. we have not touched -- we've barely scraped the surface in areas that i think would get bipartisan support. last year alone, in a time of record-high commodity prices, we
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were looking at over $16 billion. and the vast majority of them went to a small number of agricultural interests. it is not spread uniformly. if you're in a state like mine, that doesn't grow so much commodities, but what we should call food, the specialty crops, you're largely shut out. 87% of the farmers and ranchers in my state get nothing. well over 60% of farmers and ranchers nationally get nothing. but the benefits are concentrated for those who need help the least. and the irony is if you look at survey research in farm country, men and women who are in these communities support nutrition assistance more than they support large subsidies for
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agricultural business. i respectfully request that the committee join with us, let's get serious about dealing with things like direct payments, like crop insurance reform. things that i sincerely believe that there's a bipartisan majority of this committee who would join with the chairman and me and be able to deal with the savings that you're talking about here and more and not focusing in the most vulnerable people in communities across the country. i would like to turn if i could to my friend and colleague, mr. yarmoth who has recovered from the kentucky derby and is cosponsoring this amendment. >> thank you my front from oregon, he must know something i don't know because i'm a long way from recovering. as many of the celebrants and
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spectators this weekend, we took the name of the winning horse far too literally when "i'll have another" the name of the winning horse. but we won't talk about bur bon today. we are talking about something serious and that's how we feed our citizens in this country. and we've talked a lot in generalities about some of the issues that not only relate to this particular amendment but also to some of the things we've discussed not only today but during the original budget process, and one of the things that was mentioned today, the chairman mentioned, that we need to be able to measure the effects of these federal programs. and i certainly agree with that. and here we have a program that is pretty easy to measure.
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as my colleague from -- that's a pretty significant measurement of the impact of the snap program. and i don't know, maybe there's a way to measure the increase and academic performance from, by children who have food in their stomach as opposed to those who are hungry, i imagine that study is out there somewhere. i think we could probably easily conclude that students who are well nourished do better in school than those who aren't. but these are measurements that if not necessarily statistically demonstrable are certainly valid. these are programs that are critical to our citizens. and the numbers, the dimensions of these programs are clear in my district, 134,000 people, my
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district alone, get snap benefits. there are about five times that many throughout kentucky. i know in the chairman's home it's more than 800,000 as mr. blum hour said in his state. 46 million across the country who received food assistance just last month. so once again we're talking about programs that have a wide and significant impact on our population. and i know we will always have to decide whether this is the appropriate role of the federal government or whether it should be a state issue or whether it should be a local issue or whether we should rely on nonprofit organizations to do it. mrs. black talked about. we need to again measure all of these. we need to eliminate duplication. all of that stuff is very true. but how many people in the meantime are going to suffer
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until we make those important analyses and decisions? i don't want to tell the 134,000 people in louisville who received assistance last week, or last month, that they have to wait to see whether this program could be done a better way. because hunger doesn't really have a lot of patience. and one of the things that's come up during a lot of these debates, and i'm sure we'll hear it in the response of the republicans, and that is well, you can't saufl the deficit problem just by doing this. well, of course not. the deficit program is very large. we couldn't solve the deficit program if we just let the bush tax cuts expire. but $4 trillion over the next several years would be a significant step in the right direction. the fact is many of these cuts by themselves don't have a big
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impact. but we're not going to find $1 trillion a year even if we wipe out the entire defense budget. we're not going to find $1 trillion a year to eliminate the deficit. so we have to decide among these small bites of the apple which one we're going to take and in this case whether it's an apple or vegetables or whatever it may be. the appropriate step is not to take food out of the mouths of american children and the 46 million americans who are now relying on this very important program. so once again, we face a choice. we can continue to subsidize agri-business and very well think american families, or we can make sure that 46 million americans don't go hungry.
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again, i think the american people would speak very loudly on this point. i know the people in my district and across kentucky would speak loudly on this point. and so i urge that we not put deficit reduction on the backs and in the -- take it out of the stomachs of americans and kentuckyians and that we once again ask those who are very very fortunate and who have done very very well to give up one of the benefits that they really don't need. so with that, i yield back to my friend from oregon and urge the adoption of our amendment. >> i appreciate the gentlemen's comments. i think it's spot on. i would turn to our colleague from minnesota for three minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. i have the privilege of serving on military construction and
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veterans affairs on the appropriations committee so one of the things i've been focused on is quality of life issues. we not only deal with our vat rans in that respect, but we also deal with men and women who are currently wearing the uniform and serving us today. many of us remember when the complex in iraq and afghanistan came to be, that we realized that for our enlisted personnel, that we weren't treating them in a way that allowed them to live in comfortably. many of them were eligible for food stamps. many of them were eligible for housing in section 8. if it was only available to them. and so we came together as a congress to make sure that we worked on making the active duty pay commencetory for thinking
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them for their services. we did that bipartisanly and we continue to do that today. but i wanted to kind of get an idea about what's going on currently right now. military come sarryes sell goods for active duty, and we used to shop at a commisary when i was a kid and it saved us a lot of money. right now it could be 30% less than a civilian super market. so we're doing our share through that to make sure our military payroll goes far. as i said, we worked really hard to address the pay level. in 2003, we knew know we have fewer active duty members receiving food stamps and using military commissarys for this redeposition. but the commissarys are now seeing that they have a dramatic
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increase in people who are using snap benefits in 2003. so we address low pay for our soldiers, but in 2003, we still find that we have a lot of people using snap at our commissaries. between 2008 and 2011 food stamp purchases increased to 30%. from $31 million in 2008 to $81 million in 2011. i ask the question now that we have less active members who is the increase attributed to. what we're finding out, variety rans who are eligible to use it, seniors who are eligible to make their food dollars stretch better, members of the national guard and our reserve forces. so as we're reflecting upon who uses these very significant resources to supplement their
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nutrition, we should keep in mind that many of these individuals who would be looking at these cuts are men and women who wear the uniform currently, those who have worn it in the past and those who shop at our military commissaries. i yield back. >> i would tern to my colleague from texas. >> i thank the gentleman for his long-time leadership in trying to reform our agriculture programs that are in so much need of reform. i think your motion does a better job than anyone here in demonstrating the basic problem we have today. the agriculture committee, hearing the comments of the chair and others, was told find $33 billion in savings to help us address this budget. go tighten your belt $33 billion notches over there. and you figure out in the agriculture committee where that $33 billion is going to come
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from. so the agriculture committee had the opportunity. they're about $15 billion in this country that we have in foreign subsidies to agri business to the largest farms in the country. they have that, they have a wide range of our programs and they have the supplemental nutrition program that assists people, 85% of them below the bofrty line, that provides assistance to children and to seniors and to veterans and some active duty militaries, as the gentlewomen from minnesota just pointed out. so they had these various places they could look and what was done and what is done in this resolution. well, they decided that you know, really we don't want to take any money out of agri-business. we don't want to take money out of anything except the mouths of the poor people who rely on the
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supplemental assistance program. so out of that $33 billion, every single penny comes out of the food programs and not one penny contributed by agri-business or anyone else. that's the kind of sacrifice that characterizes this whole wreck of a reconciliation bill. it's not shared. it's not america coming together to solve these problems in a reasonable, rational way where everybody gives a little and the country gets a little, no. it's shifted all the cost on to the most vulnerable people that don't have the strong enough lobbiests to stand up for themselves and i think it is a terrible wrong. we're not just talking about $33 billion or a million here or a million there. we're talking about the lives of people. and again, i think it's our different experiences that lead us to viewing this so differently. i've seen the meals programs in the summer that the kids come out to because they wouldn't get
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any breakfast if they didn't show up for that program. and i was over recently, within the last month, to the west side of san antonio near lack land air force base, to see the community, heb grocery sends a tremendous amount of food there. but the kind of people that rely also on this supplemental nutrition program, and i got a paper plate from one of them. and here's what it says. my social security check does haven't give me enough to buy any groceries. just my rent and utilities takes every cent. and being disabled at 74, i can't work. without the food bank assistance, my family and i would starve. those are the kind of people that are being asked to sacrifice, and others aren't being asked to contribute a dime. in fact, they're told they can get more dimes because out of this reconciliation measure
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they're going to get more tax breaks. i think we have a responsibility to this country to demand shared participation by all americans and this motion does a little bit to share that sacrifice so the person who's 75, 74, who might starve, won't find themselves in that situation. and i commend the motion. i yield back. >> thank you. >> i would turn to our ranking member, mr. van holland for three minutes. >> i thank you, and i want to join my colleagues in thanking you for your long time leadership on this issue, and you and mr. yarmuth for offering this amendment. you know, it was just last august when we passed the budget control act. and as part of the better job budget contract act we said there were things across the board cuts. and one of those areas we
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decided we should not expose to those cuts was the food and nutrition programs under the snap program. because at lease at that time there was a bipartisan recognition that when you're going through tough times, you need that assistance for food. that passed on a bipartisan bases. now, the irony is we're here now today on a measure to prevent the sequester from going into effect, and one of the ways our republican colleagues intend to prevent it from going into effect, is to cut the very food and nutrition programs that we decided would be off limits during this really tough time. and the reason we decided it was a bad idea to cut those programs was because of what you heard from my colleagues. because there are millions of americans who are struggling to make ends meet and they rely on
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that little extra help for food, nutrition for their families. 75% of the households that receive this food and nutrition support 300,000 kids who right now have access to the free lunch program as part of their daily susaeta innocen innocence will lose that. we asked the ag committee to look at these issues and try and find savings and as my colleague said, instead of looking at the ag, they took it all from food and nutrition programs. now, mr. chairman, your budget says we need to cut $30 billion from direct payments. taxpayer subsidy to agriculture. the senate bill says the same thing. the president's budget. says we need $30 billion from that area. and yet this comes out of the ag
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committee without one penny. payments go to these businesses, whether they're in good times or bad, they can be making tons of money, doesn't matter. direct payment. it has nothing to do with the weather's been good or bad. direct payment. big taxpayer subsidies. we're talking about some farm interests that get over a million dollars, yet you're talking about cutting food stamp payment for a family of four in the hundreds of dollars. this is what this debate's all about. i have to say, this particular issue just highlights what we believe is the total wrong sense of priorities. that has come out of this process. i have to say that i know some members on your side of the aisle mr. chairman, have to be very confused about what kind of messages we are sending when we, when we cut the food and nutrition programs and hold
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totally harmless the other programs. i know, i just want to anticipate one thing. i know we're going to hear that you left the sequester in place for some of the ag programs. that's about 14 billion. that's for the whole category. when in fact, your budget, the senate bipartisan budget and the president's budget all say this is an area where we should be making cuts. this is one of the more shameful areas of this particular budget and i yield back my time to mr. bloomenhaur. >> thank you, mr. van hollen. i appreciate your eloquence and your passion. i share this sort of -- sort of surreal experience and i hope that all of the members have spent some time in the last month in the food bank or maybe talking to a few people who actually live on food stamps.
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and find out what difference it makes for them. i -- i am -- overwhelmed by the stories i hear from the volunteers and stuff i see. congresswoman bonamici and i a couple of weeks ago were dealing with farmers and ranchers in oregon. it's stunning. they're not asking for direct payment, to keep the crop insurance subsidies flowing. they support nutrition. they support healthy food for kids in school. the gap between most farmers and ranchers and what is going on in our community for people who desperately need the support and what we're having offered up here today is staggering. and i think frankly, it's unnecessary. because this is an area that if we rolled up our sleeves with members of the committee, we
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could agree on helping the nutrition programs and i'm convinced we could fully meet the deficit reduction target by this proposal here in a way that most of us would adwree. thank you and i yield back. >> i will claim time and opposition and yield myself 30 minutes. where to begin. before we get too deep into the righteous indignation on this issue, of all the budgets proposed or passed or viewed, the one budget that did not cut agricultural subsidy was the house democratic plan. zero savings in function 350, the function where the subsidies are funded. we put $30 billion in. our budget said $30 billion, which is to be included in the farm bill. farm bill hasn't been written yet. that's where the agricultural subsidie subsidies, direct payments and
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all the rest are going to be done. >> sure. >> because our budget as we talked to your staff about, we actually mandated more than enough cuts in the mandatory portion of the budget to eliminate all the direct payments and made very clear in our accompanying report and mentioned specifically the area to look at was direct payments. >> wasn't in the budget. category where farm program rs placed. >> we, i don't know -- >> 920's -- >> just like your budget with respect to a future sequester. you put a lot of the cuts in an account, a cbo. we did the same thing with respect to cuts. >> reclaiming time. >> let's just get a little l bit of history. first of all, the gentleman and i from oregon have a great history on this. i agree with just about
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everything you said. we're going to push forward on those things. we've been leaning on this issue. last year, president obama offered $1.2 billion of savings on reductions. we put 30 billion. this year, we're doing it again. also in the farm bill. now, i would also say this is not a question of whether or not it's either gettinging savings from the stamp program. we should reform both because both need reforming. this program has grown 270% in the last ten years. we just had testimony two weeks ago in this committee that said it would have only have grown 40% adjusting for the recession. but it grew 270% according to our witness, the studies program, because of all the changes that have occurred in lieu. let's look at some of those
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changes. what the agricultural committee put out does not change the eligibility criteria for the current program one bit. let me say that again. it does not change the eligibility criteria for the snap program one bit. but here's the issue. it's not easy to expect the republican, the public to continue supporting such program that is grow at such alarming paces when they turn on the tv or read the newspaper, they hear about lottery winners getting food stamps. prisoners are getting food stamps. when they hear about college students getting food stamps. this program has grown to a point where it needs to be reformed. category cal eligibility. if you get a brochure, get referred to an 800 number, you've been qualified for food stamps. 16 states including a district
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of columbia have a loophole they're now utilizing where they send a $1 check to an individual so they can get an extra $130 in foot stampds. and so what we're seeing here is an abuse of a program where the benefits are going to people who are not intended to have the benefits go to. so all we're sag in this reform is the people who are actually eligible for the program, those are the people who should get it. now, when we take a look at the other savings such as the catch up provision, the then majority, the democratic majority used this as a pay for two or three times. so we're proposing some of the same kinds of reforms, only that now that we're proposing it for deficit reduction, we're being assailed for that.
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the savings we will achieve for this over ten years, our government will borrow the same amount of money over the next seven and a half days. we're reconciling hundreds of billions of dollars with this package. we need to be reconciling trillions of dollars if we're going to prevent a debt crisis. nobody's talking about that kind of tax increase. not even the president's is anywhere close to closing the fiscal gap to prevent the kind of debt crisis on our horizon. when we talk about all the issues that are here, we want to go after loopholes, too. we want to go after the loopholes to have a better tax system so we can get better economic growth and job creation. you cannot have a society of up yard mobility of prosperity of striving toward equality of opportunity if you don't have a growec


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